Angkor: Redux

I just got to Kampot in southern Cambodia last night and I went on a trip up to Bokor today. Bokor is an abandoned resort and casino on top of a mountain. It was built by the French during the colonial period here and abandoned as they left in 1972 due to the Khmer Rouge taking over the country. We hiked a few miles down the mountain and then through some farms to get back to Kampot. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

I spent three days in Siem Reap touring the ruins of the Angkor temple complexes. Angor Wat is the most famous of these, but there are dozens of ruins in the area. Maybe my favorite part was going to Angkor Wat before sunrise. It was my first day and I hadn’t seen it in the light. Walking up to it at 5am with the stars overhead was very impressive. Walking around inside in the dark not knowing the layout of the place was exceptional. The sunset from a nearby hill was no slouch either.

There’s another ruin called Ta Phrom where they’ve left the large trees in place where they grew on the ruins. The tree roots push the stones out of place and the walls collpase when the trees die. It’s a tourist favorite for good reason. There’s also a place about 80km away called Beng Malea where they have’n’t restored it at all. We convinced a tuk-tuk driver to take us the whole way. The lady at this gas station thought we were all crazy. Walking around the ruins was like being in an Indiana Jones movie. Climbing around in there I found some sections standing including this hallway.

Some of the things that people haul on mopeds around here are unbelievable. I’ll tell you about some of the ones I don’t have pictures of and show you the ones I do. I’ve seen a motorbike (125cc Honda Dream II) with five people on it. I saw three motorbikes pass me on a dirt road each with 2 or 3 full size (but a little thinner) mattresses hanging off the back suspended by ropes somehow. I saw a guy on a motorbike with a full sized CO2 tank (5 ft tall, like a welding tank) tied down horizontally balanced on the seat behind him. There was no cover or protection around the valve. If he laid the bike down to the right, it was going to the moon.

Here’s one with a couple of small propane tanks on it. Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side to get a good shot. Apparently pigs take motorbikes too. I don’t know if they paid, but they were very much alive. I later saw a motorbike with four pigs on it.

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